So here are some old thoughts and feelings on one of my favourite movie series and one of my absolute favourite movies.
The series is the Evil Dead series. The move is the Thing. The originals, of course.
First, the Evil Dead. Very good horror from the 80s. Set very much like a horror, low key and straight forward, with the kids in danger aspect as usual. However this pushes further, with some nasty scenes – argh! the pencil! – and great effects. The last quarter of the film with just Ash is the best – weird camera angles and moments of stillness suddenly interrupted by mad violence.
Bit tame by today’s standards, but a top notch horror.
Evil Dead 2 is even better. Less of a standard horror movie, much quicker into the action and madness, and it has a quirky humour throughout. More monsters and better done, a bit more is delved into on the demon side of things. But mainly you watch for Bruce Campbell beating himself up or getting beaten up by everything around him (under Sam Raimi’s direction).
This movie works from start to finish, with gore and frights and madcap monstermania (ie. I love this movie and think it is a damn near perfect horror film).
Evil Dead 3, or the Army of Darkness, is no doubt the weakest of the trilogy. But I still love it, mainly as by now Ash is into his own and spends the movie being annoying, ridiculous, pompous, and yet still kicks undead arse. There are two versions of this, with different endings too, and I prefer the full one, yet not always – “Good, bad, I’m the one with the gun.” – and only with the deleted scenes on the dvd will that windmill scene ever make sense. But then the Evil Dead has never worked well logically (are they sequels or remakes or what?) and the little Ashes and Evil Ash make this movie worth watching.
As for the Thing, it is one of my favourite horror movies, favourite scifi movies, favourite horror/scifi and favourite of any. Really great cast, great music, great monsters in too, and has that setup that always works in these movies – a group of people trapped alone with the enemy. Fantastic lines and the real effects in this kick the crap out of anything recent, with smooth clean CGI trying to terrify. There are scenes you will never forget in here, such as the heart attack, the blood test, the dogs in the kennel, and so on. From the dramatic opening of two Norwegians trying to kill a dog right to the end where…. Ah, not saying. But it is all great, always tense, and never letting you down.
Some people may find it a bit bleak and slow, just as some may find the Evil Dead too mucky or silly. Balls to the lot of them!
On a further note, if you can get these on dvd, all 4 movies have really good commentaries. I highly recommend listening.